Computer simulation of the molecular dynamics of retinal during its photoisomerisation inside a restrictive active site gives a detailed model for the sequence of events in the first step of the vision process. It is proposed that the prelumirhodopsin intermediate contains a strained all-trans retinal molecule produced directly and rapidly from the 11-cis, 12-s-trans conformation in rhodopsin by a bicycle-pedal isomerisation. The model reproduces the main experimental observations and explains how the protein makes the photoisomerisation path unique.
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